After coming home today I found the latest Rolling Stone stuffed in my mailbox with a giant photo of Barack Obama on the cover (inside I learned he's been on the magazine cover three times in seven months--a tie for John Lennon). But, Obama isn't my focus tonight, just the type of culture I think he's been unwillingly labeled as representing.
This particular copy of Rolling Stone is one of the more inspiring editions I've gotten since the one about The Police's reunion tour a few years ago (but that was inspiring in a much different, more irrelevant sort of personal way). I read it, and it was the same type of tired assemblage I've come to expect from the editorial staff over the last year: some interviews, the same flat partisan "essays" on the GOP, some photographs of semi-famous pretentious musicians, some "introspectives" on more semi-famous people, some crap about the aborted record industry, and a tacked on section of music reviews slowly dwindling in critical quality.
I just re-read that and it sounds very critical, and that's because I am very critical of Rolling Stone's work--this edition just presented somethings that spurred -my- wheels of cognition, and I thought I'd share those with you in this blog post. I suppose that, for tonight, Rolling Stone is my muse, but in only in a similar sense that grape soda inspires Nagasaki-calibur bowel movements. Let's continue.
I've always been really confused about how my culture, my "generation," the time I just happened to live, would fit into history. In 17 years I've seen the fall of communism, the internet, Bill Clinton, George Bush, readily-available XXX pornography, post-postmodernism, the LHC, and within the week, most likely Barack Obama. If you're reading this, you've seen the same stuff, and well, it's a -lot- folks. We've seen so much historic shit, but that historic air seems to be missing. The War on Terror is the "Terri Schavio version" of the Crossing of the Delaware, but even this war is lacking -that- aura, the aura that surrounded George Washington in 1776 as strongly as it does now. I think we're living in a vacuum: history has been ripped through a continuum, reprocessed to appear in our eyes as Mars to Galileo through his first lens telescope, a fuzzy ring of color making everything blurry and uncertain. This is the feeling I'll remember most about my childhood--some chronic "temporary-ness," the sense that Time could have gone from 1990 to 2020 without missing anything but a commercial break. It is this feeling that I'm wearing, a feeling like a familiar hoodie I just got found in the bottom of the closet.
So, I don't think, even in the middle of all this groundbreaking-ness, that we're doing anything historic. This feeling seems inextricably linked, to me, to the sensation that I was born in the middle of some metaphysical English channel. I mean, really, you're my age, think about it: we're all born around 1990. Born right there between the end of a proverbial feast and the certain vomiting to follow. This "feast" I speak of gets it start right there at the close of WWII and persists right up to me, to us. If the post-War world is a ship moving under the sail of intellectual progress and betterment, then my band of existence coincides with a Scilla storm, the ship crashing under the weight of itself, that sail of intellectual and humanitarian progress ripped asunder. What survives? Flotsam something akin to Euripidean cynicism and world-weariness.
The root of this "shipwreck" is a sweeping type of movement, a movement without growth. Our parents facilitated the creation of a cultural vacuum that is currently spinning faster than anyone can truly comprehend, a vacuum we were born into accepting as normalcy, inasmuch that it has sucked up and distorted all of our external stimuli. This goes back to the foggy sense of the present I was discussing earlier: we have accelerated our culture beyond a level of comprehension in the present. Think of it as doing a book report on a book you've never read; Everyone says you have an incredible sense of literary analysis and insight into this book, even if no one else has read the fucking book. It's not a lie, per se, but it's not exactly a fact: just something akin to a cut scabbing over without the aid of red blot clots.
I think this is coming off as confusing, mainly because I'm writing as I think and I don't think these thoughts are particularly lucid. It sounds like I don't think anyone has given the world anything significant since 1950, and that's just not true. We pour ourselves into supersaturated skylines and wind up underground, under Volcanoes.
If you think our problems are bad, just wait until you see our solutions.
I feel in a few years, after Time merges onto I-20 towards Atlanta and we're all left at the Summit, that the plaid-wearing rejection of "the System" will define whatever-the-fuck it is I'm living in, just like the past four decades are just extensions of mass-produced individualisms and revolts against some Order. I don't see anything oppressive about my life or my government (well, Dick Cheney aside). I think people want something to hate just to hate something. It's like "well, democracy is the norm, so fuck it. Go communism! And my expression. Hey cool, Che shirts--17.99! Good thing I got paid last week." Then their kids grow up to say the same damn thing about recycled constructions. I don't think I need to expand this argument because you've seen it and lived it. In forty years we'll all be pissed off at Ryan Adams treatment of the narrative pastoral and our place in whatever the popular form of government is. Then we'll grown up and our kids can go back to listening to Ryan Adams and hating us for whatever. Who cares. You get it--the act of mutual creation necessitates a reactionary and radical reaction, it's just that we cannot allow one to be both, or both to be one. They've got to stagger a bit before everything goes full circle.
And this is the paradox of accelerated culture. Example: in the 1960s everyone wanted Marilyn Monroe porn--until the internet, the best pornography involved above-average people of above-average sexuality and beauty doing the same stuff we all do with our comparatively "less attractive" friends. But now how many websites do you see with amateur housewife porn? Why does there exist an unquenchable need in the collective consciousness of men all across America to see shoddy, sketchy tapes of some creeper's thirty year old neighbor fucking her mailman? Without her make-up on? You get the idea, and that's the basis of our accelerated culture--an argument and its antithesis exist as the same thing and both are perceived as natural, logical progressions from A to B, where the end result is the same either way. That's our problem, and that's why everything is coated in not-aura nowadays, at least I think. The facts are there, but the analysis needs a few years to evolve to Charizard--we just can't understand ourselves just yet, but only because Ash pressed "B" during the evolution. But hey, because of that we get the really super awesome level 50 fire attack at level 46!
That's our culture. If you want to call it something (other than whatever you want to call it), name it "vacuum culture." Just don't say it sucks. You can't say that 4reel just yet.